Verdun Trenches

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The battlefields around Verdun are still criss-crossed by trenches. Communication trenches can be seen everywhere. They were essential to enable troops and supplies to be moved up to the front line. Casualties were moved back through them.

 

 

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Trench showing concrete rivetting.

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Trench showing concrete posts used to hold rivetting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the October offensive, many were improved. The ‘London Trench’ is an example. The sides were reinforced in 1917 with concrete slabs that were held in place by concrete posts. There is a stretch beside the road on the way to Fort Douaumont. However, it can be followed through the woods and seen at other places, unmaintained. It is striking that these have survived almost 100 years.

Lower picture illustrates design of following trenches.

Lower illustration shows principle of armoured shields.

Remaining firing plate showing shell damage and rifle port.

Only remaining armoured shield showing blast damage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Entrenchment showing hinges for armoured shields.

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Rifle slot in armoured shield, with bullet hole.

 

 

 

Before the war began, defensive positions had been prepared around the forts. These were of two different types. I do not know whether this reflected different philosophies or just that different companies had made them. The first example is from the defensive position south-west of Froideterre. It consists of a concrete wall with small partitions facing the enemy. On top of these were armoured steel plates that were raised into position and allowed two rifle positions behind each plate. There was no overhead protection clearly reflecting the idea that the position would be assaulted by infantry alone.

 

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Same trench showing partitions and overhead cover.

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Contemporary photo of French soldiers in trench.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second example is from Trench system X & Y.between Triaumont and Froideterre. It is facing west and so envisaging the same enemy approach. The structure is different. Gone are the armoured plates and they are replaced by 20cm of overhead protection that extends for about 70cm. Otherwise they are similar.

There is no sign of any dug-outs at either location, but they may well have existed and would have increased both protection and comfort.

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